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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Trinamool humbles Left in Bengal, snatches Kolkata

Kolkata: The Trinamool Congress Wednesday wrested control of the prestigious Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) in an electoral sweep of the civic polls that saw it humble West Bengal's ruling Left Front across the state.
The state's urban voters gave the thumbs down to the Left, which suffered a humiliating defeat although the major opposition parties, the Trinamool Congress and the Congress, failed to come to an electoral understanding.

The results have come as a big boost to the Trinamool, which defied exit poll predictions of a close contest and improved its bargaining power vis-a-vis the Congress which performed dismally.

Trinamool candidates won 95, the Left Front bagged 33, Congress got 10 and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) clinched three of the total 141 wards in the KMC.

The Left has controlled the KMC since 2005. However, the Trinamool had run the board between 2000 and 2005, after 20 years of Left rule in the civic body since 1985 when the new municipal act came in place.

The Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool also gained control of the Bidhan Nagar municipality, which includes the city's posh satellite township of Salt Lake, for the first time. Its candidates won 16 of the 25 seats in Bidhan Nagar, with the Left Front getting only nine.

In the districts, the Trinamool bagged 26 municipalities while the Left Front got success in 17. The Congress was poised to win in seven bodies.

Among the municipalities the Trinamool won were Memari in Burdwan district and Bolpur in Birbhum district as well as Khardah, Baranagar and Naihati in North 24 Parganas district.

The Left Front retained Bally in Hooghly district and Toofanganj and Dinhata in Cooch Behar district in northern West Bengal.

The Congress retained the Katwa Municipality in Burdwan.

An upbeat Banerjee, who flew into the city from Delhi, said the Left had lost the right to rule the state.

'We congratulate the people of Bengal. The state government has lost all right to be in power and assembly elections should be held immediately in West Bengal,' Banerjee told journalists at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport here.

As the results poured in, Trinamool candidates celebrated wildly all over Kolkata. The outcome is considered a huge blow to the Left, which had been in control of 54 of the 81 civic bodies, including KMC, which saw polling.

Sunday's civic polls were considered a semi-final ahead of next year's make-or-break assembly elections at a time the Left Front, which has ruled West Bengal since 1977, is facing its most serious challenge to power.

More than 70 percent of the voters exercised their franchise Sunday, two days after the Gyaneshwari Express rail disaster blamed on Maoists claimed 148 lives in West Midnapore.

Sunday's elections were the first popularity test after the Lok Sabha polls of 2009 that saw the Trinamool-Congress combine decimate the ruling Left Front.

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